Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Mexico, Three Metros Add Jobs. Really!

Wage jobs grew in 39 states between September and October. New Mexico was one of the 39 with 2,100 new wage jobs appearing (on a not seasonally adjusted basis) over the month. That makes for one of the state’s best performances in a long time.

Our wage job total went to 811,800 in October, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday, November 22. The increase from October 2010 was even better—5,000 new jobs, a 0.62% improvement well under one percent, but still the best in a while.

New Mexico scored the nation’s largest drop in unemployment rate, year over year with a two percentage point decline, the BLS said. As noted before, this comes from people leaving the labor force, not from people getting new jobs. The national unemployment rate is 9%. New Mexico is at 6.6%.

Construction, though down 9% over the year, posted a 1,000 job, or 2%, one month increase, again the first in months and month. Construction employed 41,400 across the state in October.

Mining, which includes oil and gas, added 1,800 jobs year over year for 10% (wow, double digits!) growth to 20,700. The sector is small, but it pays well and sends major dollars to the state.

The 6,000 or 7,000 jobs that disappeared a year ago from the professional and business services sector remain gone, statistically anyway. The sector reported 100,500 wage jobs in September 2010 and 94,200 in October 2010. Sector employment has been flat since October 2010 with 93,200 jobs reported in October 2011.

Education and health services continued to add jobs (what else?) with 6,900 new jobs year over year, a 6% increase.

For the metro areas, Albuquerque led with a year over year loss of 1,500 jobs, or 0.4%, the Department of Workforce Services reports. In Albuquerque leisure and hospitality and education and health services each added 1,400 jobs.

Las Cruces showed no change in wage jobs over the October to October year. The private sector gained 800 jobs and government lost 800, DWS said.

Santa Fe added 400 jobs over the year even as government 400 in the state capitol.

For the year Farmington added 1,000 jobs for a nice 2.1% growth. The private sector produced 800 of those jobs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Texans to the Bosque. Mannnie's and the Owl Closed On Sunday

The sunny Sunday yesterday drew us to the Bosque del Apache. Coincidentally it was the final day of the Festival of the Cranes. Artists who did bird stuff were in a big tent on the Bosque headquarters grounds. There were animal exhibits.

Our entirely informal survey indicated that out of state visitors outnumbered New Mexicans. Texas seemed the biggest source of visitors, followed by Arizona and Colorado. We also saw license plates from Oklahoma, Indiana and Michigan. The New Mexico Department of Tourism RV cruised the loop roads. (Maybe it wasn't from tourism, but it was a state vehicle.)

A young Prius-driving couple from Oklahoma had created a changing table for the baby on the back deck of the car.

Lunch was at Frank and Lupe’s El Sombrero in Socorro. The food was up to the usual high standard. The restaurant business card brought the news that there is a Frank’s and Lupe’s in Scottsdale.

Maybe 20 years ago public broadcasting did a show on radio telescopes and the astronomers around the world. The Very Large Array was a featured site, obviously. One segment showed the astronomers at El Sombrero doing post-dinner cosmic mapping using their beer bottles.

We were glad we chose to eat in Socorro. To our surprise both the Owl CafĂ© and Mannie’s in San Antonio were closed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NM Has Same Proportion of Artists as Does Nation

New Mexico has 12,481 “artists,” plus or minus 1,173, says the National Endowment for the Arts in “Artists and Arts Workers in the United States,” a report released in October. That’s 1.3% of the state’s labor force, just behind the national percentage of 1.3. We are ahead of Arizona, which has 37,403 artists, but only 1.2% of the labor force.
New Mexico is one of five states ranking at the national level for share of artists in the workforce. That puts us behind 13 other states.
Among metro areas, Santa Fe doesn’t stand out.
As compared to national averages called “location quotients,” New Mexico is big on art dealers, custom architectural woodwork and millwork, nature parks, architects, motion picture and video industries and sound recording industries.
The report is also called, “NEA Research Note #105.” It used American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2005-2009 from the Census Bureau. Another source is the Current Population Survey from the BLS. See
The report takes an expansive view of artist, which is why the quotes were used above. Florists are “artists,” for example. I suppose so, but including florists would not have crossed my mind. Industrial designers are artists, too, which may explain Michigan having many artists.
These are the artists profiled:
Actors—stage, television, radio, video, or motion picture
Announcers—radio, television, public address systems, events
Architects—private residencies, commercial buildings, landscape architecture
Fine artists, art directors, and animators—art directors; craft artists; fine artists include: painters, sculptors, and illustrators; multimedia artists; animators
Dancers and choreographers—dancers, choreographers, and dance teachers Designers—commercial and industrial designers; fashion designers; floral designers; graphic designers; interior designers; merchandise displayers; and set and exhibit designers
Other entertainers—circus performers; comics; jugglers; magicians; puppeteers; rodeo performers; show girls; ventriloquists, and other entertainers
Musicians—music directors, composers, musicians, and singers
Photographers—includes scientific photographers, aerial photographers, and photojournalists Producers and directors—stage, television, radio, video, or motion picture production
Writers and authors—advertising writers; authors; biographers; copy writers; crossword-puzzle creators; film writers; magazine writers; novelists; playwrights; sports writers; and lyricists

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sandia, Los Alamos Remain in the Supercomputer Game

New Mexico has always been big in the business of doing research with computers because building nuclear weapons required large calculations. Now supercomputers have moved beyond the requirement of doing lots of arithmetic to dealing with what are called “big data problems.”

A competition called Graph 500 ( started a year ago to rank machine or platform capability in this area. Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory are very much in the game. Los Alamos has one person on the Graph 500 steering committee. Sandia has five (if I read the list correctly), including Richard Murphy, the chair.

Sandia scored four places on the newest rankings, announced yesterday in a Sandia release. Los Alamos had two.

The Graph 500 website explains things this way, “Data intensive supercomputer applications are increasingly important for HPC (high performance computing) workloads, but are ill-suited for platforms designed for 3D physics simulations. Current benchmarks and performance metrics do not provide useful information on the suitability of supercomputing systems for data intensive applications. A new set of benchmarks is needed…
“Backed by a steering committee of over 50 international HPC experts from academia, industry, and national laboratories, Graph 500 will establish a set of large-scale benchmarks for these applications. The… committee is in the process of developing comprehensive benchmarks to address three application kernels: concurrent search, optimization (single source shortest path), and edge-oriented (maximal independent set). Further, we are in the process of addressing five graph-related business areas: Cybersecurity, Medical Informatics, Data Enrichment, Social Networks, and Symbolic Networks.”

Got that? Kernels? Mostly we lay people need to remember this stuff exists here, that it is world-class, that very smart people are employed doing the work and paid lots of money.

Sandia’s release says, “Big-data problems are solved by creating large, complex graphs with vertices that represent the data points — say, people on Facebook — and edges that represent relations between the data points — say, friends on Facebook. These problems stress the ability of computing systems to store and communicate large amounts of data in irregular, fast-changing communication patterns, rather than the ability to perform many arithmetic operations in succession. The Graph500 benchmarks indicate how well supercomputers handle such complex problems.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Metro Homes Sales Defy Seasonal Pattern, Increase During October

During October sales of single family detached homes in metro Albuquerque increased from September. So much for the seasonal trend of sales dropping as the weather gets colder.

Townhouse/condo sales followed trend, however, with 46 October sales, down three of seven percent from 49 in September.

The 566 single family detached home sales were nine percent or 49 more than the 517 sales during September.

Detached home sales were up 24% from October 2010 while townhouse/condo sales dropped 19% from October 2010.

One possible factor in the October sales jump is that 70% of the September pending sales turning into sales closed during October. By contrast, September closed sales were 59% of August pending sales. There were 785 sales pending for October, just three percent fewer than September.

Another possible factor might be the metro economy getting a little better, as I have noticed recently.

Prices for all homes continued down. Average and median prices dropped both from September 2011 and October 2010.

During October, one metro home sold for $1 million (or more). A rough guess is that a million dollar sale raises the average price by $1,450 for the month. During October 2010, four metro homes sold for $1 million, perhaps explaining around $5,000 of the $23,792 year-over-year average price drop.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winery Closed, Gate Gorgeous

We learned about the Guadalupe Vineyards ( today at La Ventana in Grants where we lunched. Guadalupe bottles were tucked into nichos at La Ventana.

La Ventana served us a very nice rolled chicken enchilada with tomatillo sauce and a turkey sandwich with avocado and jalapenos.

Returning to Albuquerque, we opted for a part of the scenic route and exited I-40 where the sign said, “San Fidel.” Just east of downtown San Fidel, a sign pointed us to Guadalupe winery. The road was San Jose Loop, a well maintained one-lane gravel road. San Jose (St. Joseph), it seems, is big in San Fidel with a school and a church.

We looped. The winery was closed. Not surprising given it was 4 P.M. on a November Thursday. However, the website claims, “Our tasting room hours are Wednesday thru Sunday, 12 noon to 5:00 pm.” But the gate was gorgeous. Note the small photovoltaic collector providing gate power.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NM Delegation Sticks With Fairy Tales

One of those occasional high-contrast offsets appeared in today’s Albuquerque Journal.

One side came from Washington Post columnist Robert J. Samuelson. The other side from New Mexico’s three hard-core liberals in Washington: Jeff Bingaman, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich.

Find Samuelson’s columns at I have always liked Samuelson, partly of course because I agreed with most of his arguments but also because he brings clarity and brevity to complex issues.

Samuelson outlined “the budget fictions of the right and left.”

The fictions, the fairy tales, are:

Conservatives: “We can reduce deficits and cut taxes by eliminating ‘wasteful spending.’”
Liberals: “We can subdue deficits and raise social spending by taxing ‘the rich’ and shrinking the bloated Pentagon.”

Neither fairy tale mentions entitlements, the big part of the problem.

The liberals made the front page with their fear of a proposal to change the index used for cost of living adjustments to social security.

Oh my gawd, Udall told the Journal, “While I would consider reasonable changes to the cost-of-living adjustment, pushing our seniors into poverty is a nonstarter.” Give me a break, Tom.

Even Rep. Steve Pearce, anchor of the right in our delegation, babbled a bit in semi-skepticism. Come on Steve, abandon the fairy tales.